Grampians Music Festival is iconically Australian

Grampians Music Festival is iconically Australian

Words by Tammy Walters
Photo by Ian Laidlaw

We explore one of Australia’s most unique and intimate music celebrations.

Nestled in the heart of the picturesque rolling mountain circle of the Grampians National Park in Halls Gap, Grampians Music Festival explodes with Australian identity.

From its landscape, to their core values of inclusivity, mateship and representation, and its layered lineup of incredible Australian emerging and up-and-coming talent, GMF hits the mark time and time again in showcasing Australian music and culture. Going into the festival’s fourth year, they’ve well and truly outdone themselves.

In 2020, GMF is championing a broad spectrum of Aussie talent on their biggest lineup to date. Front and centre is the divine songstress Julia Jacklin following on from the biggest year of her career. 2019 spawned her critically-acclaimed sophomore album Crushing.

In a water to fire contrast, Jacklin will be joined by pocket rocket, Ecca Vandal, and the comedic satire stage presence of DIY punks These New South Whales. DRMNGNOW, Maddy Jane, Elizabeth, CLYPSO, Raave Tapes, Zoe Fox & The Rocket Clocks, Pinch Points, Sledgehammer and more, also join the diverse lineup, ready to stun the family-friendly field.

“The festival is located smack bang in the middle of the Halls Gap valley so you can see both sides of the incredible granite mountains – it’s such an Australian location. You’ve got kookaburras, you’ve got kangaroos, you’ve got the sunset; being an all-Australian lineup speaks to the heart of what it is,” explains Festival Director Carly Flecknoe.

“The way we address our programming is that they need to be Australian, independent, they have to be on an upward trajectory and doing something that creates something original in the scene. I guess that allows us to play with a lot of genres because that’s not specifically genre-defining.

“We always look at whether we’re crossing other nationalities, whether we have Indigenous representation, we look at non-binary – all different aspects to make sure we’re representing a spectrum of the industry.”

GMF have certainly hit the nail on the head with this year’s lineup feeding into the festival’s strong alumnus of Sampa The Great, Angie McMahon, Polish Club, WAFIA, Slum Sociable, Alice Skye, Tired Lion and Ruby Fields, all of whom have catapulted off the Halls Gap platform.

Another outlet for performer growth is their Emerging Artist stage at surrounding pubs and venues which puts the spotlight on all things shiny and new. While the festival offers a stage to artists, the artists have been equally influential in moving GMF into its next stage of development, shaping it for years to come.     

“Grampians Music Festival will always be a festival that evolves with what is happening and what is current in the industry. That is what happens when you work with independent bands and bands that are on their way to doing something that creates a really great noise in the music industry.

“It’s important that we allow ourselves to be guided by what is going in the music industry and where paths are forming and where those needs and new spaces are,” Flecknoe continues.

“I would almost describe it as a person – when you first come into your teens and you’re looking around and thinking, ‘I’m sort of on my way to being a grown up here, and I kind of know who I want to be but I’m not really sure whether or not I’m comfortable with that or confident with that’. With each year that has gone on that has solidified, so we’ve really started to feel confident in our position around the kind of music we want to put on and have really started to love the way our audience itself has been defined.

“To see and create a space that feels safe for people to bring their children – and that started really organically – and then for us to be able to embrace that has been fantastic. That in turn has provided that extra growth for the festival. The more aware we become in our role the more we define what we do. Each year GMF becomes more of who it is.”

The adult version of the festival, as it approaches its five-year anniversary, looks to be even more comfortable in its skin, continuing to evolve with the music-scape and introducing new elements to the mix.

“There is talk in the works of possibly introducing a new stage but it is – and I can’t give too much away yet because it isn’t confirmed and locked in – but it is a niche stage, so there won’t be two competing lineups,” Flecknoe says.

“It will be complementary and it will serve a specific purpose. We still believe in our philosophy of being able to watch a band at one stage and not have to run away and coordinate your day with 15 minutes of one band and 15 of another.”

Grampians Music Festival goes down across two nights from Friday February 28 to Saturday February 29. Grab your tix via the festival website.